Bill 60, Quebec’s charter of secularism that would ban religious garments in the public service and impose a framework on religious accommodation requests in the workplace, is based on the Parti Québécois plan unveiled in September by the lead minister on the file, Bernard Drainville, but it does contain some differences. Here are some key shifts in the PQ position:
The bill would severely limit the opt-out clause that institutions could use to allow their employees to keep wearing hijabs, turbans and other religious symbols. Instead of an indefinitely renewable exemption, cities would be limited to one year and universities and other educational institutions to five years. No limit is spelled out for hospitals.
The PQ says it is now open to moving the crucifix out of the blue room of the National Assembly, where debates take place. The minority government previously opposed moving the crucifix, saying it was a matter of heritage.
Citizens and companies doing business with the government could be required to follow the religious dress code. The original proposal only suggested full face coverings, such as the niqab, would not be tolerated in all government business.
All new employees of public institutions will be required to adhere to the charter, with no exemptions or opt-out period.
The National Assembly could ban members from wearing religious symbols by unanimous vote. The original proposal suggested no limits on MNAs.
The original proposal was named the Charter of Quebec Values. The title of the actual legislation attempts to be more inclusive and specific: The Charter Affirming the Values of State Secularism and Religious Neutrality and of Equality between Women and Men, and Providing a Framework for Accommodation Requests.